It was such a relief to learn that the alleged L.A. airport shooter wasn’t a swarthy al Qaeda guy with an unpronounceable name, that he wasn’t a terrorist from some scary country that we Americans would be hard pressed to find on a map. It was such a relief to learn that it was a “random incident,” an “isolated incident,” that the kid with South Jersey roots told cops he “acted alone.”
It was such a relief to find out that this “isolated incident” was all-American to the core, that this kid – a “reserved, quiet boy,” according to Delaware private school classmates – simply exercised his Second Amendment rights and (according to police) legally purchased his Smith & Wesson .223-caliber M&P assault rifle, which helped him exercise his First Amendment right of free expression. It was such a relief to learn that what happened was not foreign terrorism, but just American business as usual, because assault weapons for kids like him have been legal since 2004, when the Republican Congress allowed a 10-year sales ban to expire.
Granted, the kid is charged with killing one of the workers he was free-expressing against, but we all know this is the price we must pay for Freedom, and it’s such a non-news event that this morning’s print edition of The New York Times contains not a single word about it. Nothing new here, folks, move along.
It was a relief to learn that the kid had chosen to exercise his free expression with the Smith & Wesson assault rifle, because that’s a product of all-American know-how, a real honey – a true Freedom tool, according to popular websites like budsgunshop.com (slogan: “best BANG for your buck”), which lauds it as “rugged, lightweight…built to perform flawlessly under varied conditions. As tough as it is effective…while its six-position adjustable stock easily accommodates varied shooters and shooting positions.”
Granted, there’s always a chance that you or I or someone we know and love might wind up as a Freedom lover’s collateral damage – hey, there’s always an inherent risk when you walk in an airport terminal, or when you munch popcorn at the movies, or when your kids play in kindergarten – but as a culture we’ve made our choice. Senator Dianne Feinstein whined on TV yesterday about the airport weapon (“The M&P stands for military and police. Clearly designed not for general consumption, but through practice it’s now general consumption. Same gun that was used at Aurora”), but she knows the score, she knows that Freedom has won (“There’s a hammerlock on the Congress by the gun owners and gun people”), which is why the LAX random isolated incident barely rates as news.
Yes, it’s a relief to know that that particular Smith & Wesson assault rifle is so revered within the American family – and not just by the military personnel and police for whom it was originally intended. With just a few clicks on the Internet, you can find S&W fans who think a lot like the LAX kid – this guy, for instance, on yahoo.com: “I think this is a really nice rifle. We do live in a pretty sick society and I believe gun ownership and knowing how to shoot is very important for any patriot who loves this country…This is a great rifle to have in case the crap hits the fan.”
What a relief to know, thanks to the broad parameters of Freedom, that airports can be places where the crap hits the fan. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that we are guaranteed to be safe while in the act of removing shoes or outerwear; you and I must accept some risk from time to time – some random isolated incident Second Amendment risk – to ensure that we all remain free.
That’s why our most powerful Freedom lobby, the NRA, has vigilantly insisted that Americans be allowed to bring their guns into the unscreened parts of airports. Any legislative attempt to ban guns at the front door, the NRA warned in 2008, would “interfere with self-defense rights.” What a relief to know that the NRA hammerlock has protected people like that South Jersey kid, whose handwritten letter (according to law enforcement officials) explicity mentioned “how easy it is to get a gun into the airport.”
Yes, what a relief to know that he acted alone in a random isolated incident manner. Now we can go back to our lives, as we always do, knowing that we will duck our heads and dive to the floor when isolated randomness strikes again. So bug off, foreign terrorists; we’ve got this Freedom thing down. Leave us to our routine. This is America.
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